Connecting the Dots

Mark Patterson, Wendy Cukier, Suzanne Drisdelle, Anita Agrawal, Gwenaele Montagner, Kety Baker, Elizabeth Vazquez

Magnet Export Business Portal hosted Connecting the Dots, a panel discussion to talk about women-owned businesses and accelerating the road to exporting. As Executive Director of Magnet, I had the opportunity to welcome guests and introduce panelists.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Wendy Cukier, Founder and Director of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University and featured the distinguished panelists; Suzanne Drisdelle, Manager, Client Relations, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Anita Agrawal, President, Organization of Women in International Trade, Toronto Chapter, (OWIT), Gwenaele Montagner, Director of International Trade Development, World Trade Centre Toronto, Katy Baker, Business Advisor, Business Development Bank of Canada and Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO & Co-Founder, WEConnect International.

The event provided an opportunity to hear from trade specialists and women business owners on how they and others can help to break down the barriers to trade and how to better support women-owned companies in pursuing business growth. As research shows, women-owned business is less likely to be high growth firms, and high growth firms tend to be more likely to export. According to data from 2014, female SMEs represented 15.7% of all SMEs, but only represent 11.1% of exporting SMEs.

Ultimately, in order to close this gap, one of the best ways for Ontario-based SME’s to grow is through developing and following through on an effective export strategy. Exporting helps in increasing revenues, expands customer base and places SMEs in a position to becomes more competitive.

Many of the challenges facing women-owned business and SMEs are what motivated the Government of Ontario to support the development of the Magnet Export Business Portal. In early 2017, Magnet we were asked by the Government of Ontario to utilize Magnet’s technology to respond to a growing challenge facing businesses in Ontario – navigating the overwhelming array of export resources.

Research showed that Ontario businesses were hampered by the time, energy and difficulty in finding the export opportunities that were relevant for their business and stage of export readiness.

Business owners are busy people who have to make tough choices about how to focus time, money and energy. With multiple providers of programs, content, and events, it is difficult for business owners to know where to start, let alone know what programs to pay attention to, and incorporate into business plans for growth.

The Magnet Export Business Portal platform is designed to match relevant and timely export events and opportunities, including those offered by the organizations of each of the event’ panelists, to Ontario businesses of all sizes, based on their export-readiness, sector, location, and goals. This next generation technology will simplify pathways to navigating Ontario’s trade ecosystem.

It’s free to join the Magnet Export Business Portal

Thank you to the sponsors and partners of Connecting the Dots:

  • The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade
  • The Organization of Women in International Trade, Toronto Chapter
  • WEConnect International
  • The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce
  • World Trade Centre Toronto
  • And the Diversity Institute